This is Himanshu Pendse. I am currently working in Australia as a Radiologist with special interest in Interventional Radiology. Thanks to the Cafe Roentgen team for the opportunity to elaborate about the Australian radiology system.
A little bit about the Australian Health System first. Australian health system is a public based system similar to the UK. There are a few private hospitals; however the public hospitals are the main referral units and all the high-end stuff is performed in the public hospitals. Thus, getting a spot in the public hospitals for training has to be the main goal. Also, the public hospitals are graded, so not all hospitals have accredited fellowships. The fellowships are competitive as the locals apply for the same ones.
There are two pathways of working in Australia-
1. Applying for a fellowship, also called Specialist-in-training pathway:
The concept of a fellow position in India vs in Australia are quite different. Back in India, we can become fellows the minute you finish the board exams. This is not the case here. Fellows here are considered to be just one grade below the consultants and are expected to work independently. So, it would be at least 3 years after one finishes exams in India, i.e. 6 years of experience, before one should think of applying here. Of course, there are exceptions but this is the usual norm. Ideally, they prefer that you have worked in the same area back home so that you come here with some prior experience.
FRCR will be beneficial but not mandatory. Australian Medical Council (AMC) registration is not required, but as we all, know rules keep on changing. It is important to start the process of degree verification through the AMC website simultaneously as you apply. FRANZCR is not required.
The applications here are through a central application system similar to the NHS. It is difficult to contact a department to enquire about a fellowship. The main jobs are basically government jobs and are advertised on the government websites. You can find a list of the important websites to find these in my next blog here.
Each state has its own health website. For eg- Western Australia jobs are advertised through website medjobswa.mercury.com.au. Australia has 7 states so there are 7 main websites. Melbourne and Sydney have a few more per zone which can be easily found on the net. Again, I have listed them all in my next blog here.
Job applications start around Feb for the positions the following year. Applications for fellowships are through the website while the selected candidates get an interview call which is usually in August. The interview can happen over Skype or another similar interview platform. The interview does not usually involve cases; technical questions are asked. They wish to understand whether you will gel well with the with the team.
Once you secure a position, the hospital will send all the paperwork for college registration, medical board temporary registration (AHPRA) and visas, usually in that order.
Most fellowships are for a year, with good hands-on for reporting and IR (as I said, a fellow works like a junior consultant). Next job has to be secured to continue work next year. The same fellowship is usually not offered again to the same candidate. The fellowship has a good salary, and does not require any ‘fellowship fees’, although there will be expenses like registration, college fees etc.
2. Applying for a consultant job – Specialist Recognition Pathway
A. Area of Need (AON) pathway: Complete details about this are also available on the RANZCR college website under the International Medical Graduates (IMG) section. AON pathway means that the applicant has agreed to work in an Area of Need region (away from main cities), and thus needs approval from the college and the medical board for this. There are limitations of work in these regions, especially for procedures. The job has to be secured in advance before the applications for this pathway, which means that the hospital has to commit to hiring you. The application is filed by the employee (Radiologist) and employer jointly.
This needs a job in public or private sector. The actual eligibility process for the position will start after the college gets the paperwork. IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is mandatory.
The Radiology college (RANZCR) will conduct the AON interview which is like a 30-minute exam. All sub-specialities will be tested. This interview is in person.
They will then recommend the suitability for that particular job with the restrictions, if any. For eg, an applicant who has not done breast radiology to the college expectations will not be allowed to report mammograms. This applies for all sub-specialities.
B. Applying through Specialist Pathway: In this, the applicant is saying that he is a specialist in his country and wants to work in Australia as a Radiology consultant. This application does not need a confirmed job in Australia.
The Radiology college will again assess all the paperwork and take an interview. This interview will assess the CV. Then they may or may not recommend mandatory training. High chance is that they will, which is usually up to 2 years. There is usually a specified time-period to finish the requirements.
Securing a job to fulfil the requirements is solely applicant’s responsibility. The jobs have to be in a teaching hospital to fulfil the requirements. The list of approved hospitals is available on the website.
The board exams (Part 2 RANZCR exams) are mandatory for everyone. FRCR or EDIR is considered during the interview but not a replacement for the exam. The main reason being that the RANZCR exams are considered to be exit exams so are designed to be much more extensive. The above pathways and information can change to some extent depending on the candidate’s CV’s and abilities.
I took the longer route among the above processes. I applied for fellowship in Australia 3 years post MD, and came to Australia as a Fellow in Interventional Radiology. This was through the Specialist-in-Training pathway. Then, I applied to the Specialist Pathway and gave the RANZCR interview. Then, I did a diagnostic radiology job for a year rotating in different faculties. Following this, I gave the RANZCR exams Part II and then got the FRANZCR degree and thus eligibility to work as a Diagnostic and Interventional Radiologist. Currently, I do all the vascular and non-vascular procedures as well as general reporting.
Sorry to bombard the readers with all this information. Happy to answer any questions.
– Himanshu Pendse, Wagga Wagga Base Hospital
PS: You can check our other blogs on training abroad in our section ‘Beyond the Shores’.